OHFA Joins Fight to Reduce Infant Mortality and Awards Funding for Housing Assistance Program

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COLUMBUS - The Ohio Housing Finance Agency has announced that CelebrateOne, a Franklin County-based organization created to reduce infant mortality, will receive funding to implement a pilot program to provide rental assistance, health care, social services and more to low-income households at risk for infant mortality.

In July 2017, OHFA requested proposals for a pilot program that aimed to reduce infant mortality through housing assistance and supportive services. OHFA allocated $1 million to fund a pilot program that expands housing opportunities for extremely low-income households with pregnant women, new mothers or infants within their first year of life.

On December 20, 2017, the OHFA Board awarded $990,970 to CelebrateOne to implement their comprehensive program, Healthy Beginnings At Home. CelebrateOne's program takes a comprehensive approach to reducing infant mortality by providing women with housing assistance, medical care and important social services both before and after their baby is born. At the end of the program, CelebrateOne will help families create a housing retention plan, become more financially stable and ensure long-term linkages to community supports.

The program includes housing stabilization services in partnership with the Homeless Families Foundation. Furthermore, Children's HealthWatch under the direction of principal investigator Dr. Megan Sandel and Nationwide Children's Hospital will evaluate the pilot program. The Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority will administer OHFA-funded rental assistance and provide ten units of public housing at the newly renovated Sawyer Manor and Trevitt Heights in Columbus.

"We know that stable housing is one of the determining factors in reducing infant mortality in our city," said Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther. "This grant represents a significant step forward in the very important work being done by CelebrateOne."

The funding from OHFA also ensures that community health workers, a project director and a housing administrator will be available to assist families. This program will create person-centered plans, connect families to safe and affordable housing, fully subsidize rent and establish the appropriate amount of medical care and social services to ensure the health and well-being of the participating families.

Going forward, CareSource will play a role in identifying those in need of housing and providing data that shows the impact of the program. CareSource has provided $250,000 to the program.

Through these local partnerships, OHFA and CelebrateOne aim to reduce infant mortality in central Ohio and create a model program to inform future assistance programs for the state of Ohio. The final report will be submitted to the Ohio Commission on Infant Mortality. Through access to stable, safe and affordable housing and through partnerships with local services, this program can comprehensively support families and help foster a healthy first year of life for infants in central Ohio.

For more information on infant mortality in Ohio, please refer to OHFA's Housing Needs Assessment.

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